You might know of this famous painting by Salvador Dali called Christ of Saint John of the Cross. He took a sketch by Saint John of the Cross and reoriented the perspective slightly (see above). Dali said that he considered his painting “’the very unity of the universe,’ the Christ!” For me, this new perspective seems to be the Father’s view of the Crucifixion.
I cannot see this painting without thinking of John 3:16-17 that we also hear in today’s Gospel:
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.”
This is the love of the Father. This is the love of God. That the Son came to die on the cross for our redemption. He did not come to condemn us. He came to save us.
This painting is normally housed in Glasgow. To my knowledge, it has only been to this country three times – during the Kennedy administration, several years ago to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and to Saint Petersburg just a couple of years ago. I had the opportunity to see it in Atlanta. I paid for my museum ticket, went straight to the foot of this painting, and stood there for well over half an hour… taking it all in.
I try to never forget this. That God the Son, fully divine, took on a human nature in order to die this death on a cross. Looking at this painting, I am always amazed at this. Overwhelmed really by the love of God. That this was done for me. And for you. Individually. And so, I have a print of this hanging here in my office at the parish.
Amid our current pandemic, we cannot lose sight of this. No matter what, this is how God loves us. Some of us are going through tremendous difficulties now. Loss of a loved one. Loss of a job. Businesses closed. Always, always remember this scene. This is God’s love for each one of us.